I fell in love with the cinema when I was very young but I never imagined I could be involved with the making of films. I went to Art College, knowing what I didn’t want to do but not knowing what might be possible, and there I discovered still photography. Then I heard about the National Film School, applied, was rejected, applied again, was accepted, and my world expanded from there.
When I left the NFS I looked for work as a camera assistant. After weeks of nothing I decided I would feel better about myself if I went looking for work as a cameraman. I did and I began to get offered work.
I never had one specific ‘break’ but many over time. I began shooting documentaries; one in what was then Rhodesia, another on a yacht sailing around the world in the Whitbread Race (now the Volvo) and another during the liberation war in Eritrea. My first real feature film was ‘Another Time Another Place’ with director Mike Radford, with whom I went on to shoot ‘1984’ in 1984.
Mentors? Not really. The stills photographer Roger Mayne inspired me to use my own eyes, to see things for myself. That was probably the best thing I ever learnt. Oswald Morris would write to me occasionally. He told me that I could be quite good if only I wouldn’t operate the camera myself. We had an amusing conversation via snail mail.
I had a wonderful time working with Mike Radford in the UK and then with the Coen Brothers in the US. It was working with them that really led me to live in LA. Since then I have had the luck to work with Sam Mendes and Denis Villeneuve on a number of projects.
I believe it was Alex Thompson who proposed me for membership of the BSC.
2002 ‘The Man Who Wasn’t There’
2008 ‘No Country for Old Men’
2011 ‘True Grit’, 2018 ‘Blade Runner 2049’, 2020 ‘1917’.
2018 ‘Blade Runner
2049’, 2020 ‘1917’.
ASC Lifetime achievement award 2011.
Skyfall, Sicario, Prisoners, Unbroken, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Jarhead, O Brother Where Art Thou, Kundun, Fargo, The Shawshank Redemption, Mountains of the Moon.